Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts and Pecans

Remember a long time ago when I wrote about how much I love orange colored vegetables in the Fall? Yeah, apparently that hasn’t changed at all. I went to Trader Joe’s today and somehow came home with 5, yes 5, different pumpkin flavored things. I in no way whatsoever needed any of them and I barely have any recollection of putting those items in my cart. And so they joined the pumpkin beer in the refrigerator. No complaints here though, pumpkin flavored cookie butter is the bomb.

Unsurprisingly the food that I actually had on my grocery list to make a sweet potato gnocchi dish still went along with the fall theme, which should be obvious because I am a female in her mid-twenties who wears flannel frequently and grinds her coffee beans by hand every day. And yes, I do frequently shake my head at myself.

But doesn’t sweet potato gnocchi sound so nice though? It’s the same light-as-a-feather dumplings we all know and love but just a tad sweeter with a hint of a caramel taste. And while a lovely pairing could be sage and brown butter or a nice peppery cream sauce, I went with roasted Brussels sprouts and toasted pecans, as inspired by Tara at Seven Spoons. The varying texture and flavors that already exist between those three things were made even more complex with a good dose of orange zest to brighten up the richness of the gnocchi and the bitterness of the sprouts and a hefty amount of Parmesan, because I really can’t think of anything that is not improved but lots of Parmesan.

Admittedly it is not exactly a recipe for the beginner cook and I will warn you that the number of dirty dishes involved is overwhelming, but with patience and good organization, the outcome will definitely be worth it. Plus the extra gnocchi can be frozen for up to several months, and makes for a very quick dinner on a lazy day. I know that gnocchi is certainly intimidating and the standard variety has given me more trouble than success, but somehow the sweet potato variety has never failed me yet.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts and Pecans
Serves 4-6
Inspired by Melissa Roberts and Tara O’Brady

1¼ lbs russet potatoes (about 3 medium)
¾ lb sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)
1 egg
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 grated Parmesan
1½ - 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. butter
2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 Tbs olive oil
¾ cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
the zest of 1 orange
salt and pepper

Begin by making the gnocchi. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Scrub your potatoes clean use a fork to poke holes all around each. Rub with a little bit of olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until soft throughout. Remove from the oven, cut each in half and let cool for 5 minutes. Scrape the insides of the potatoes away from the skins and discard the skins. Press the potatoes onto a large sheet pan using a potato ricer. Allow to cool for 10 more minutes.

Combine the egg, nutmeg, a tsp. of salt and a half tsp. of pepper in a small bowl. Gather the potatoes into a mound, make a well in the center and pour the egg into that. Use your hands to combine. Add the parmesan and 1½ cups of the flour and knead it into a dough. Add more flour as needed until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough.

Divide the dough into six pieces. Generously flour the counter and use your hands to roll one piece into a foot long rope. Use a bench scraper to cut the rope into about 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece over the tines of a fork to create the classic gnocchi look and place on a floured baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough and refrigerate the sheet pan with all of the gnocchi for about 30 minutes.

While it sits, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prep the Brussels sprouts. Toss with the olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and half of the orange zest. Spread them out on another sheet pan and roast for about 15 minutes or until tender. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, cook two-thirds of the gnocchi in 3 separate batches for about 5 minutes each batch. Once cooked, transfer to a large bowl. The remaining gnocchi can be frozen for another time. Once all of the gnocchi are cooked, heat a frying pan over medium and add the butter. Once melted, add in the gnocchi and fry in the butter for 7-10 minutes, tossing frequently.

Transfer the gnocchi to a large bowl. Add in the Brussels sprouts, the pecans, and the remaining orange zest. Season with salt and pepper as desired and serve with more grated Parmesan.